COVID-19 update for Sept. 22: 22 deaths, 305 in hospital: Weekly report | UBC prof co-leads study that suggests long-COVID is an autoimmune disease | Source says Canada will drop vaccine requirement to enter country – Vancouver Sun

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the coronavirus situation in B.C. and around the world
Here’s your update with everything you need to know on the COVID-19 situation in B.C. and around the world for Sept. 22, 2022.

We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly every day this week, with developments added as they happen, so be sure to check back often.
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Here are the latest weekly B.C. figures given on Sept. 22 for the week of Sept. 11-17:

• Hospitalized cases: 305
• Intensive care: 22
• New cases: 637 over seven days ending Sept. 17
• Total number of confirmed cases: 384,266
• Total deaths over seven days ending Sept. 17: 22 (total 4,253)

Read the full report here | Next update: Sept. 29

• Another 22 deaths were tallied in the latest weekly report from the B.C. CDC Thursday, with 305 in hospital
• UBC prof co-leads study that suggests long-COVID is an autoimmune disease
• Canada to drop COVID vaccine requirement to enter country: Source
• Canada pledged millions for anti-COVID Merck drug. Doctors say we don’t know if it works
• Biden’s claim that ‘pandemic is over’ complicates his COVID strategy
• HK to cut mandatory hotel quarantine rules
• Federal tribunal reverses EI denial for worker fired for not taking COVID vaccine
• The latest COVID-19 numbers from the BC CDC show the number of people admitted to hospital with the illness is declining.
• Ontario’s top doctor says there is ample supply of Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccines
• Dr. Bonnie Henry says the findings of a study she co-authored showing high COVID-19 rates among children and youth should not be interpreted to suggest those infections occurred mostly in schools
• The director-general of the World Health Organization said the end of the pandemic ‘is in sight’
• B.C.’s top trial court judge has dismissed four legal challenges to the province’s COVID-19 health orders
• A study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says 80 per cent of kids, youth have had COVID-19

British Columbia saw 22 more people who recently tested positive for COVID-19 die over the week of Sept. 11-17 in preliminary data released by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Thursday.

The number of people in hospital with COVID dipped slightly to 305 as of Thursday, with 22 of those in intensive care.

Including updated mortality data from several recent weeks, a total of 4,253 people have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Another 637 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed this week, but limited testing means this understates the prevalence of the virus in the population.

For a primer on how to interpret data in the BCCDC weekly reports, click here.

— Joseph Ruttle

Researchers, including a professor of medicine at UBC, have discovered long COVID patients can show signs of autoimmune disease a year after catching COVID-19.

Eighty per cent of COVID-19 patients still had antibodies present six months after catching the disease, targeting their own healthy cells and tissues. After a year, 41 per cent still had the autoimmune disease, according to blood samples.

The results were published in the European Respiratory Journal on Sept. 21, a major peer-reviewed publication.

“The point of this paper, or the interesting thing about this paper, is that in the COVID survivors we studied the number of these autoantibodies is higher than those in people who were not so affected,” Dr. Chris Carlsten said.

“We can pretty much find some form of autoantibody in everyone if you look hard enough, but the question is whether it’s actually causing disease.”

Read the full story here.

—Gordon McIntyre

Canada’s federal government will likely drop its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for people entering Canada at the end of the month, a government source said on Tuesday.

The source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was “likely” to drop the vaccination requirement on Sept 30. The Globe and Mail newspaper reported the news earlier on Tuesday.

Canada will also drop random coronavirus testing on the same day, and make it optional to use its ArriveCAN app, where travellers have been required to upload their proof of vaccination, the source said.

Canadian airports faced chaos over the summer, with numerous cancellations and delays that some blamed on the country’s strict COVID-19 restrictions.

Canada’s Health Ministry had no immediate comment.


As Canada ordered huge quantities of a new anti-COVID drug last December and struck a deal to have it made in Ontario, plenty of evidence was out there on a key point — whether molnupiravir actually worked.

Along with a highly publicized study by manufacturer Merck, companies in India had more quietly carried out 12 separate trials of the pill on a much larger group of patients — almost 14,000 people who received either the drug or a placebo.

But a year after most of those Indian studies were completed, just a tiny portion of the results have been divulged publicly and none published in a peer-reviewed journal, says a new British paper on the Indian research.

The limited information released on four trials paints at best a mixed picture of the anti-viral, suggests the report by British academics. The rest is just unknown.

Read the full story here.

—Tom Blackwell, The National Post

President Joe Biden’s surprise declaration that the coronavirus pandemic is “over” has thrown a wrench into the White House’s efforts to secure additional funding to fight the virus and persuade Americans to get a new booster shot, while fueling more Republican criticism about why the administration continues to extend a COVID “emergency.”

Biden’s comments, which aired Sunday on “60 Minutes,” reflect growing public sentiment that the threat of the virus has receded even as hundreds of Americans continue to die of COVID each day. Forty-six percent of Americans have returned to their pre-pandemic lives, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll released last week, the highest share of respondents to answer that way since the pollsters began asking the question in January 2021.

“We still have a problem with covid,” Biden said. “We’re still doing a lot of work on it . . . but the pandemic is over.”

Biden’s remarks caught some senior officials off guard as the White House mounts a fall vaccination campaign, lobbies Congress for billions of dollars to purchase more coronavirus vaccines and treatments, and weighs whether to extend its ongoing public health emergency when it expires next month. The president’s comments also triggered a sell-off on Wall Street, as vaccine manufacturers Moderna, Novavax, BioNTech and Pfizer collectively lost more than $9 billion in value on Monday.

— Washington Post

Hong Kong wants to relax COVID rules like mandatory hotel quarantine that have made travel difficult for nearly three years, Chief Executive John Lee said Tuesday, as mainland officials signalled their approval.

The number of infections in the Asian financial hub has fallen to about 6,000 a day, creating room to reconsider the measures that have crimped the city’s competitiveness, Lee told reporters at a weekly briefing. Hotel quarantine will be replaced with seven days of home health monitoring, the South China Morning Post reported, though it said the change won’t be announced until all the details have been determined.

The plans appear to have been blessed by leaders in mainland China, despite their adherence to a zero tolerance approach to the virus. China supports Hong Kong’s efforts to have close, extensive contact with the rest of the world and sees no problem with adjusting its rules, Huang Liuquan, deputy director of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said at a separate briefing in Beijing.

Hong Kong’s residents have been anticipating a reduction in the travel curbs, including hotel quarantine requirements and pre-flight PCR testing, as a series of high profile international events are slated to begin in late October. Visitors that the city’s leaders want to attract have said they wouldn’t come if the restrictions were too harsh.

— Bloomberg

Members of a federal tribunal ruled in favour of a Toronto-area delivery driver denied Employment Insurance (EI) benefits after losing his job for refusing his employer’s COVID-19 vaccine policy.

Last summer, Timothy Conlon was dismissed from his job after turning down a request by his employer to get the COVID shot — a decision Conlon said was due to concerns over his existing blood pressure and reports of blood clots in some patients, read a press release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) who represented Conlon and others who found themselves in similar situations.

Upon losing his job, Conlon applied for EI but was denied, as the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) ruled he was dismissed due to misconduct.

“The Claimant disagrees because he was dismissed from his job two days after he was told about the policy,” wrote tribunal member Solange Losier in her decision released Friday.

Read the full story here.

—Bryan Passifiume, National Post

Public Health Ontario says COVID-19 cases and deaths are down in the most recent week of data available, but outbreaks in nursing homes are on the rise.

The agency says there were 6,968 cases of COVID-19 recorded during the week of Sept. 4 to 10, compared to 8,175 the previous week.

There were 54 deaths in the latest week of data, and 70 deaths the week before.

The agency says there were 47 long-term care homes in outbreak compared to 30 the week prior.

Public Health Ontario says there was a notable increase in hospitalizations for infants under one year old, from 17 children that week compared to eight the week prior.

—The Canadian Press

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control show the number of people admitted to hospital with the illness is declining.

The weekly report says 142 people were hospitalized during the week of Sept. 4 to 10, down from 180 admissions during the previous week.

The centre’s COVID-19 dashboard shows a total of 314 patients hospitalized with the illness on Thursday, with 23 in critical care.

The weekly report from the centre for disease control also shows decreasing deaths, with 16 last week, 36 the week before and 44 during the week of Aug. 21

In April, provincial authorities began reporting COVID-19 deaths by including anyone who died from any cause within 30 days of a positive test result for the disease.

The centre says it will evaluate the cause of each person’s death retroactively to better understand “true COVID-19 mortality.”

Read the full story here.

— The Canadian Press

B.C.’s provincial health officer says the findings of a study she co-authored showing children and youth have had the highest rates of COVID-19 in parts of the province should not be interpreted to suggest those infections occurred mostly in schools.
Dr. Bonnie Henry has been criticized by some parents, advocacy groups and health-care professionals who say a major jump in infections occurred during the school year among children under age 10.
They say measures like masking for all students and air filtration upgrades in schools could have been taken earlier to protect children in classrooms from a virus that was known to spread through the air.
However, Henry says some youth were becoming infected when they were not eligible for a vaccine, and illness among those under 19 was comparable with transmission of the virus in the community.
Read the full story here.
— The Canadian Press
The world has never been in a better position to end the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, his most optimistic outlook yet on the years-long health crisis which has killed over six million people.
“We are not there yet. But the end is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference.
That was the most upbeat assessment from the UN agency since it declared an international emergency in January 2020 and started describing COVID-19 as a pandemic three months later.
The virus, which emerged in China in late 2019, has killed nearly 6.5 million people and infected 606 million, roiling global economies and overwhelming healthcare systems.
Read the full story here.
— Reuters
B.C.’s top trial court judge has dismissed four legal challenges to the province’s COVID-19 health orders.
In one of the cases presided over by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson of the B.C. Supreme Court, the judge rejected a constitutional challenge to B.C.’s COVID health orders filed by a group called the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy.
The society argued requiring vaccinations for health-care workers was unconstitutional and also that the orders failed to provide reasonable exemptions and accommodations for people with religious objections, vaccination risks, immunity from prior injection and recent negative COVID testing.
In ruling against the group, Hinkson found that Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, had assessed available scientific evidence to determine the COVID-19 risk for gatherings in B.C., including data regarding transmission of the virus globally, nationally and in B.C.
Read the full story here.
— Keith Fraser
A study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says at least 70 to 80 per cent of children and youth in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have been infected with COVID-19.
The study, which lists Dr. Bonnie Henry among 13 authors, says that in contrast, 60 to 70 per cent of adults aged 20 to 59 and about 40 per cent of those aged 60 and over have been infected.
The preprint study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was published online on Sept. 9 and says a series of surveillance reports of infections were understating the actual levels of infection by 92 times.
It says the overall rate of infection rose from below 15 per cent to about 60 per cent between October last year and this August, as the highly infectious Omicron variant took hold.
The study is based on 14,000 anonymized blood samples obtained since March 2020 from a network of outpatient laboratories.
—The Canadian Press
MASKS: Masks are not required in public indoor settings though individual businesses and event organizers can choose to require them.Masks are also encouraged but not required on board public transit and B.C. Ferries, though they are still required in federally regulated travel space.
GATHERINGS AND EVENTS: There are currently no restrictions on gatherings and events such as personal gatherings, weddings, funerals, worship services, exercise and fitness activities, and swimming pools.There are also no restrictions or capacity limits on restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs; and no restrictions on sport activities.
CARE HOMES: There are no capacity restrictions on visitors to long-term care and seniors’ assisted living facilities, however, visitors must show proof of vaccination before visiting.
Exemptions are available for children under the age of 12, those with a medical exemption, and visitors attending for compassionate visits related to end-of-life. Visitors to seniors’ homes are also required to take a rapid antigen test before visiting the facility or be tested on arrival. Exemptions to testing are available for those attending for compassionate visits or end-of-life care.
Everyone who is living in B.C. and eligible for a vaccine can receive one by following these steps:
• Get registered online at to book an appointment in your community.
• Or, if you prefer, you can get registered and then visit a drop-in clinic in your health authority.
• The system will alert you when it is time to go for your second dose.
• The same system will also alert you when it is time for your booster dose.
TESTING CENTRES: B.C.’s COVID-19 test collection centres are currently only testing those with symptoms who are hospitalized, pregnant, considered high risk or live/work with those who are high risk. You can find a testing centre using the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s testing centre map.
If you have mild symptoms, you do not need a test and should stay home until your fever is gone. Those without symptoms do not need a test.
TAKE-HOME RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS: Eligible British Columbians over the age of 18 with a personal health number can visit a pharmacy to receive a free take-home test kit containing five COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.
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